THE CITIES OF REFUGE
pictures of (BospeUprinciples, (3ospel=
promises, ano <3ospel=privileges
YEN. W. J. ARMITAGE, M.A., PH.D,
Rector of St. Paul s Church, Canon of All Saints
Cathedral, and Archdeacon of Halifax,
WITH PREFATORY NOTE BY THE
RIGHT REV. HANDLEY C. G. MOULE, D.D.
LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM.
MARSHALL BROTHERS, LTD.,
KESW1CK HOUSE, PATERNOSTER ROW, B.C.
R. W. SIMPSON AND CO., LTD.
PREFATORY NOTE vii.
INTRODUCTION JESUS CHRIST OUR REFUGE 7
I. KEDESH JESUS CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY . 25
II. SHECHEM JESUS CHRIST OUR STRENGTH . 37
III. HEBRON JESUS CHRIST OUR FRIEND . . 47
IV. BEZER JESUS CHRIST OUR FORTRESS . . 59
V. RAMOTH JESUS CHRIST OUR HEAVENLY HOME 71
VI. GOLAN JESUS CHRIST OUR JOY. . 81
BY THE BISHOP OF DURHAM
I WISH this book " good luck in the name of the
Lord." To me it has carried many a message of
instruction, suggestion and encouragement. The
treatment of the Types of the Old Testament
calls of course for much humble reserve when
we come to details ; for even where the general
reference of a Type to Christ is most certain it
is possible to carry references in detail too far.
But Archdeacon Armitage has both selected a
Type which is certain in its reference, for Heb.
vi. 18 fixes it distinctly, for the believer, when it
tells us that it is to the Lord Jesus Christ that
we "fly for refuge to lay hold on the hope set
before us." And then he has treated that Type
with a reverent abstinence from overdrawn detail,
yet with a beautifully distinct line of exposition.
For myself, I have been struck with the spiritual
fitness, in almost every instance, of his
"application" of the names of the Refuge Cities,
viii PREFATORY NOTE
finding in each of them a reminder of some one
of the glorious characters of Him who is our
Hiding-place and our Abode.
May the volume carry to very many Christian
hearts an errand of grace and peace, to the glory
of our Lord.
THE object of this book is to aid in the
development of the spiritual life. Its aim is
practical rather than theoretical. It is intended
especially to serve devotional ends, and to
furnish food for meditation to Christian hearts,
on the different aspects of Christ s life, charac
ter, and work.
The author is conscious of the danger of
pushing too far a method of interpretation which
does not appeal with equal force to all minds ;
but he believes that the inferences which he draws
from the Cities of Refuge, their purpose, and their
use, are all in complete accordance with the best
traditions of devotional study of the Word of God.
It is only in the broad sense of the term that
the Cities of Refuge are used as types, and along
the liberal lines indicated by Professor A. B.
Davidson, who held that " a type is a fact that
teaches a moral truth and predicts some actual
realisation of that truth." Indeed, the thought
in the writer s mind is rather the modern one of
illustration. He is far from asserting that the
Cities of Refuge were originally chosen because
of the significance of their names, and that the
derived ideas which have grown up around them,
were necessarily in the minds of those to whom
the revelation was first given. There is abundant
Biblical analogy, however, for their figurative
use, and Biblical students in all generations have
felt perfectly free to employ them.
In any case, whether the individual cities are
used as types or as illustrations, the aspects of
Christ s life and work which are here described,
and from which many spiritual lessons are drawn,
are true to fact, consistent with the Christian
Revelation, and should yield, with the blessing of
God, and the light and leading of His Holy
Spirit, instruction and edification to Christian
people. It is my earnest prayer that every reader
may enter into the fulness of privilege provided
for the Christian believer, and find in Jesus Christ
a refuge both for time and for eternity.
W. J. ARMITAGE.
Ube Cities of IRcfuge
"Among the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites,
there shall be six cities for Refuge." Numb. xxxv. 6.
" The Lord is my Refuge." -Ps. xciv. 22. (P.B.V.)
" I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress ;
My God, in Him will I trust." Ps. xci. 2.
"We may have a strong encouragement who have fled
for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us." Heb. vi.
"Some soul may hence discern the truth of the Gospel-
Refuge." Dean Law.
"Christ is a believer s City of Refuge, or the alone
sanctuary for distressed souls." Dr. Thos. Manton.
" Typically . . . these cities show us three things Our
Danger, our Refuge, our Safety." Canon Clayton.
" Other Refuge have I none." Charles Wesley.
And may it some persuade, that go astray,
To turn their feet and heart to the right way."
" The path of life we walk to-day
Is strange as that the Hebrews trod ;
We need the shadowing rock, as they,
We need, like them, the guides of God."
/. G. Whittier.
" How blest are they who still abide
Close shelter d in Thy bleeding side,
Who life and strength from thence derive,
And by Thee move, and in Thee live."
" Our City of defence, to Thee,
From the avenger, Lord we flee,
Who in Thy Death confide ;
Justice divine pursues in vain
The men who God Himself have slain,
When sheltered in Thy side."
"Szlr Refuge Cities all in ONE/
For Christ is all in all ! ;
And they who are in Him, are where
No evil can befall.
But out of Him no Refuge is
No other Name neath heaven
To be the sinner s hiding place
Hath God to mortals given." /. E. /.
THE ample and perfect security which there
is in Christ, for every trusting soul, was
remarkably foreshadowed in the Old
Testament. There were many types of
Christ, which, like stars in the night, shone for a
season and then passed away. There were
numbers of beautiful and expressive emblems
which suggested deep and all important truths,
awakening faith and hope in the spiritual and
eternal, in the light of which many souls rejoiced ;
they were, however, at best, merely temporary in
their character. The guiding cloud, the gracious
manna, the refreshing stream, while God-given,
and fruitful in lessons for all time, ended as the
Israelites crossed the Jordan. There is a gospel
in the old covenant, but it lies still in the shadow ;
the Christ life, the truth of God, is but dimly seen.
We may say of type, and figure, and emblem, and
"They have their day and cease to be :
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And Thou, O Lord, art more than they."
THE CITIES OF REFUGE
But in the Cities of Refuge, seal of the Gospel-
fact, that Christ is a sure and an eternal refuge,
as Dean Law so well remarked, we have a sign
which lived through the history of God s ancient
people. " It never failed until the cross was
reared." And as Dr. Adam Clarke said, the
whole of the Gospel could be preached from them.
The divine institution of the Cities of Refuge
was based upon the sanctity of the life of man,
connected with the kindred thought of the
preciousness of human blood. The fruitful idea
that the individual man has an endless value in
the sight of God, was, as Professor Jowett pointed
out, " foreign to the age of Plato," but it was
largely realised in the early history of Israel.
Israel above all the nations of the earth set true
worth upon the value of man as man.
The national spirit seemed to say :
" But for Adam s seed, MAN ! Trust me, tis a clay above
With God s image stamp d upon it, and God s kindling
And while the legislation was intended for an
imperfect state of society, and provided for condi
tions of a primitive character, for a people still in
the childhood of the race, yet it was a step towards
a more perfect system, merciful in character,
reformatory in purpose, and uplifting in design.
The criticism which cavils at the Mosaic laws
is frequently due to failure to observe and
appreciate the significance of the progressive ele
ment in revelation. There is progress in revelation,
and necessarily so, on account of the imperfection
of human society deeply affected by sin.
The City of Refuge on earth typified in some
measure the heavenly Jerusalem. The Old Testa
ment dispensation was preparatory in its nature,
admirably adapted to meet the conditions of the
people and the times, and pointed forward to ideal
perfection only to be realized in Jesus Christ.
"The law was given by Moses, but grace and
truth came by Jesus Christ."
In the Jewish economy appointed of God for
the settlement of the Promised Land, at least six
Cities of Refuge were especially set apart and
given rights of asylum under certain well-defined
conditions. The number six, which in the
symbology of Scripture would appear to imply
some degree of human imperfection, falling short
as it does of seven, that is complete or divine
perfection, is not without significance. It was
intended that they should afford shelter and pro
tection to those who committed homicide unin
tentionally, or, in the language of the Scripture,
unawares and unwittingly.
It is always possible that, through accident,
and without premeditation, or through ignorance,
and without intention, one might be the cause of
the death of another.
Among the customs of the East, which
10 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
have come down even to modern times, there
is one which gave the next-of-kin the right
of taking vengeance for the blood shed. The
Hebrews, feeling above others the sacredness
of human life, bound together by closer ties,
and with the words of the Divine revelation ever
before them, "whoso sheddeth man s blood, by
man shall his blood be shed," gave large place in
their minds to the duty of the next-of-kin to be
an avenger of his brother s death. He was looked
upon as a righteous avenger of murder, and his
rights were as firmly established as any by court
of law. In fact he was the instrument of law,
and simply did what we now assign to the officers
of the crown. There is no satisfactory equivalent
in English, Professor Buchanan Gray thinks, for
the Hebrew word Go el, for " his mission," as
Clay Trumbull points out, " was not vengeance,
but equity. He was not an avenger, but a
redeemer, a restorer, a balancer."
The Go el, the Redeemer, as a point of
honour, took vengeance upon the person who had
slain his kinsman. But it was not allowed
to take the form of lawless or merely
personal revenge, or to degenerate into family
strife. Its bounds were carefully set. And
in the Divine plan under the covenant the
motive was judged, man was treated as a
free moral agent, responsibility was fixed, and
the whole question was lifted from the lower
level of mere blood revenge, and given ethical
Layard, in his " Discoveries in the Ruins of
Nineveh and Babylon," declares that however
repugnant it may seem to our ideas of justice, it
must be " admitted that no power vested in any
one individual, and no punishment, however
severe, could tend more to the maintenance of
order and the prevention of bloodshed amongst
the wild tribes of the desert." Dr. Selah
Merrill says, that it was " one of the most
humane features of ancient civilisation." The
Mosaic law by this provision, while it upheld the
sanctity of human life and inspired horror at the
thought of the shedding of blood, even by
accident, furnished a large measure of protection
to the innocent.
The word city in ancient times carried with it
the idea of protection. " Cities," we are told,
" whether in Babylonia or in Palestine were, at
first, simply fortified dwellings of clansmen."
The earliest city of which we read was
founded for that purpose. Cain built the
first city and called it after the name of
his son Enoch. The city of Enoch was not, of
course, a city in the modern sense, with its civil
government, its lines of streets and squares, its
houses and factories, its churches and shops ; but
a fortified place, built for the greater protection of
those who congregated together for safety and
12 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
social intercourse. The etymology of the word
is obscure, but it seems probable that, its first and
leading thought, like the Saxon " burg," is that
of security. The Code of Hammurabi, and other
indications, show that city organisation with the
Ass) ro-Babylonians was far more advanced and
progressive, than is generally supposed. In
later times the term gained a wider significance,
and to the Greeks and Romans a city furnished
opportunity for collective and corporate life upon
social and political lines.
The Cities of Refuge were so placed, three on
either side of Jordan, that they provided the
greatest possible readiness of access. The devout
imagination has always pictured for the cities,
conditions almost ideal in character. The gates of
the cities, like those of the new Jerusalem, were to
be kept always open, both day and night. The
approach to them was to be the easiest possible,
with good roads, at least twice the ordinary
regulation width, and kept constantly in thorough
repair. All obstructions were to be carefully
removed that might offer the least hindrance to
the runner in his flight. All hills were levelled
wherever possible, and the streams bridged.
There were sign-posts provided at every turn in
the road, and at the cross-roads, with the inscrip
tion upon them, " Miklat," "Miklat" "Refuge,"
" Refuge," in plain characters, so that he that
ran might read. In the cities themselves an
abundant supply of food and water was to be
constantly kept against all exigencies which
might arise, and no weapons of war were to be
allowed within the walls.
It was far otherwise in every other system in
primitive times, and indeed in later days, for the
right of vengeance for wrongs inflicted upon a
member of the social unit whether it was the
clan or the family has been claimed within
recent years. The Corsican vendetta still exists,
as may be seen in the pages of the daily
press, and is a fruitful theme for fiction. It is
prevalent in Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. It
has shown itself in the Italian form in the United
States, but existed there long before in some of
the States, at least under the name of feud. The
blood-feud was for centuries the curse of the
borderland between England and Scotland, and,
as in the case of the Scott and Kerr families, was
carried through many generations. It gave the
turbulent Armstrongs a firmer hold upon their
own blood relations and struck terror into the
hearts of their enemies.
The spirit of the ancient feud still lives in
Ireland, and there are many instances where the
family of the slain claimed the right, and exercised
it whenever possible, to exact an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth, a life for a life, until vengeance
was completed upon the slayer and his kin. The
result has been in Ireland as in Italy that the
i 4 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
death of one person has often led to the sacrifice
of many lives.
The ancient system which provided an asylum
for those who fled from the avenger of blood, would
naturally lead to many grave abuses unless care
fully regulated. Daun tells us that the " asyla "
of the Greeks, Romans, and Germans, enabled the
criminal who was amenable to the laws, to
escape the sentence he justly merited. In many
countries, as Driver points out, a money com
pensation was " accepted by the relatives of a
murdered man as a satisfaction for his life." It
was so amongst the Greeks and Germans, and,
Freeman thinks, amongst the Saxons as well. It
still obtains amongst the Arabs, and is indeed
recognized by the laws of Mohammed.
" Hebrew law," as Professor Buchanan Gray
well points out, " marks a very distinct advance
by so modifying primitive custom as to secure
an adequate punishment for the individual
guilty of murder, and a clear distinction between
accidental and wilful homicide." In the Hebrew
view there is no possible compensation adequate
to cover the loss of a human life, " murder can be
atoned for only by the blood of the murderer."
The wilful murderer, under the Jewish law, as
we read in Exodus xxi. 14, the briefest and most
ancient statement of the law of homicide, was
to be torn even from the altar of God, and put to
death. He had no rights of sanctuary. Justice
compelled him to stand at the bar of judgment
for his crime.
The Cities of Refuge were provided to cover
unintentional acts of murder, and these alone.
The refugee, as Professor Gray states, could
obtain protection only until such time as it could
be " legally determined whether death was
inflicted wilfully or accidentally." Otherwise, as
Calvin remarked, " the kindred of those who had
been killed would have doubled the evil." The
law, then, was not only just and equitable,
but in the highest interest of the community,
private as well as public. As Professor Keil
says, " we have in this arrangement a mani
festation of the perfect rigour of divine justice in
the most beautiful concord with compassionate
The refugee, whether an Israelite or a stranger,
was safe the moment he entered the gate of the
city of refuge. But as a safeguard, and in order
not to screen real criminals, the elders of the city
and of the place from which he came instituted
an inquiry into the facts of the case, and reached
a decision as to whether the act was involuntary
or the result of malice. If he was pronounced a
murderer, the nearest kinsman of the person slain
executed in his own person the sentence of death.
If he was adjudged innocent of wilful murder, he
was protected in the city of refuge, and on the
death of the high priest he was no longer counted
16 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
as a fugitive, but was allowed to return home to
his relatives and friends.
This merciful provision of the Cities of Refuge
acted as a preventive to idolatry ; the involuntary
man-slayer was not driven to seek a home among
the heathen nations around, but was allowed to
live in his own land, among his own kindred, who
held like him the faith in Israel s God.
The Cities of Refuge were not merely civil
institutions serving a local purpose. They were
also types of heavenly things, and taught the
people lessons of the very deepest significance.
Should any one claim that they were not actually
" types," surely no one will deny that at least
they most marvellously illustrated the revelation
of God. We venture to use the word " type," in
its larger theological significance, as suggestive at
least of similarity, identity, and predictiveness.
Professor A. B. Davidson defines a type, in
language much less restrictive than that of many
modern theologians. " A type," he says, " is a
fact that teaches a moral truth and predicts
some actual realisation of that truth." This gives
us much larger room in which to move in our
interpretation of the revelation of God s mind
and will in the Old Testament. We are able to
enjoy the full fruitage of that which was seen
before only in bud and blossom. For " a typical
dispensation is one related to the dispensation of
which it is typical, as a bud is to the flower, as a
miniature to a portrait, as a sketch or outline
to a filled-in picture."
Philo, the prince of uninspired allegorical
writers, who was contemporary with our blessed
Lord, but whose chief works appeared before the
New Testament writings, and who represents
the high water mark of Jewish philosophy,
saw in the Cities of Refuge God s thought
for men. While it is true that Philo did not
know Jesus Christ as Saviour, yet his teaching
shows the trend of Israel s hope which centred in
the promised Christ of God.
The Cities of Refuge in Philo s teaching are six
in number, and correspond with six divine powers.
He says that the oldest and the best, the metro
politan city is the Divine Logos, or Thought.
Philo never reached the truth which St. John
gave under inspiration to the Christian Church,
that the Logos was not only with God, but was
God. Still he taught clearly, and it was mar
vellous for an uninspired man to do so, that the
Logos is the thought of God, and although he
said that God Himself is higher, yet three times
at least he called the Logos a God.
The Logos, Philo taught, is the Mother-city,
not merely one of a number. It is the most
profitable to rly to, but only the swiftest runners
can hope to gain it. It is the highest city, the
fountain of wisdom, from thence is drawn, instead
of death, eternal life.
i8 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
The other five cities are what might be called
colonies of the Mother-city, the Divine Logos.
The foremost is the Creative power, for by a word
He made the universe. The second is the Regal,
the kingly power by which He rules what He has
made. The third is the Propitious, through
which He shows mercy and displays the spirit of
compassion, as a God of grace. The fourth is the
Preceptive, by which He teaches, giving instruc
tion by precept for the regulation of conduct. The
fifth is Prohibitive, by which He forbids that
which is wrong, forbidding it with all the authority
of His perfect law. These five cities, colonies of
the great Mother-city, correspond with five
powers of Him Who speaks the Word or
The Cities of Refuge embodied in themselves
truths of the highest importance concerning
the salvation of God, and His provision of
grace and security for His children. They
were pictures of the Gospel, they foretold the
way of salvation, they illustrated in many
different ways the mission and work of the
Divine Redeemer. They pointed to Christ in His
office of our great High Priest, in His work as
Redeemer and Saviour. They were an object-
lesson of the meaning of sin, of the punishment
which it deserves, of the only means of escape from
it, and they furnished a marvellous resemblance
to the way of salvation in Christ our only refuge.
The Cities of Refuge point to Christ as the
sinner s refuge, and that in more ways than one.
They are found on careful and prayerful study
to suggest Gospel-principles, Gospel-promises,
Gospel-privileges. Christ is Himself the city
The six Cities of Refuge belonged to the priestly
tribe of Levi. The forty-eight cities of Levi
possessed the right of asylum, but the six Cities
of Refuge were bound to receive and to entertain,
without cost, the involuntary homicide. They were
priestly cities, with peculiar privileges of their own.
The refugee, flying from the avenger, had but
to pass through the gate, and not only was he
immune, free from the slightest danger, but he
ranked at once as a fellow-citizen with the priests
of the Most High God. The levitical or priestly
cities were selected, because they belonged to
Jehovah Himself, and were under His special
protection as well as recipients of His grace.
There, if anywhere, the administration of justice
would reach its highest point. Social life would
also be at its best. There would be opportunities
for education, and the cities would naturally yield
instruction to the refugee, as well as adequate
protection to his life. The cities would also be
pervaded by a religious atmosphere. The con
ditions were, therefore, the best possible, whether
viewed from the legislative, social, scholastic, or
20 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
Jesus Christ is our first and only Priest. The
Levitical priesthood which pointed to Him has
been realised and fulfilled in His life and work.
Jesus Christ is the one eternal High Priest,
through whom salvation comes to man, and in
whom man has communion with God. The
Levitical priesthood was limited by imperfection
and changes. The priesthood of Christ is
eternal, perfect, inviolable, intransmissible
(d-n-apaftarov) , all-powerful, and all-prevailing. He is
our Priest upon the throne of the Divine Majesty,
the sovereign Lord over all, God blessed forever.
He is the sole and perfect mediator between God
and men ; He receives the trustful, penitent soul,
and saves to the uttermost all that come unto
God through Him ; He is the sinner s refuge, his
only hope, his life, his all ; He is, in Himself, the
living way ; in His own person He is the bridge
that spans the great gulf of eternity ; the ladder
set up from earth to heaven ; the world s great
altar stairs, which lead from man to God. The
very name Jesus means saviour, and the Scrip
tures declare that there is salvation in Him alone,
" neither is there salvation in any other." He is the
world s sole refuge. There is none other name
given under heaven whereby we must be saved.
"Other refuge have I none.
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee."
The Christian believer stands safe and secure
within this refuge. He dwells in the secret place
of the Most High. It is to him an everlasting
home, full of glory, full of joy unspeakable, and
of light that never fades away. He has passed
out of the condition of ruin, of degradation, of
death, into the life of Christ, and has become an
heir of God, a joint heir with Christ, a partaker
of the heavenly glory. He is now a priest and a
king, in the city of his God, from which he is to
go no more out forever.
The Sanctuary which Christ is to His people,
through the grace of God, is an eternal refuge.
The life upon which the Christian enters is ever
lasting. In the ancient city of refuge, when
Israel s High Priest died, the refugee left the
sheltering walls of the city, and returned to his
old home. But our great High Priest ever liveth,
and in Him we constantly abide. " In Christ,"
there is safety, and merciful provision, for time
and for eternity. His precious blood completely
cleanses from all sin. His perfect love casts
out all fear. His grace is sufficient for every
Jesus Christ is not only the divinely appointed
way of escape, He is, in Himself, the city of
refuge. " I have no hope in what I have been or
am," said the saintly Dr. Doddridge on his dying
bed, " yet I am full of confidence ; and this is
my confidence : there is a hope set before me, I
have fled, I still fly for refuge to that hope. In
Him I trust ; in Him I have strong consolation,
22 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
and shall assuredly be accepted in this beloved of
my soul." " Believe a dying man," said the
great Dr. Johnson to his physician, " there is no
salvation but in the sacrifice of the Lamb of
Jesus Christ ouv Sanctuary
" A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place
of our sanctuary." Jer. xvii. 12.
" Whither, O whither should I fly,
But to my loving Saviour s breast ?
Secure within Thine arms to lie,
And safe beneath Thy wings to rest."
" I need Thee, Holy Saviour !
For sin defileth me ;
And only in Thy holiness
Could I my Father see."
" Sin Thou has blotted out, and Thou
Our Kedesh City art ;
Our Shechemj too, Thou bearcst its,
The signet on Thine heart/
" Israel, in ancient days,
Not only had a view
Of Sinai in a blaze,
But learn d the Gospel too ;
The types and figures were a glass,
In which they saw the Saviour s face."
THE first in order of the Cities of Refuge,
according to the Book of Joshua,
appointed, or " sanctified," (as the
marginal reading suggests), by God was
Kedesh, in Galilee, in Mount Naphthali. It
was beautifully situated on a lofty ridge about
twenty miles from Tyre. It was surrounded by
a well-watered plain, which had been highly
cultivated and sustained a large population.
The city itself was splendidly fortified against
attack. It is notable as thu birthplace and
residence of Barak, and it was there that he and
Deborah assembled the tribes of Zebulon and
Naphthali when they "jeoparded their lives unto
the death " in the great battle against Sisera, the
captain of the hosts of Canaan. It was after
wards known as Cades, and is now called Kedes.
The name Kedesh means set apart, a sanctuary,
a holy city. The eminent Hebraist, Fiirst,
says $15 Kadhash, signifies to be fresh, pure,
bright, holy ; to be consecrated, sanctified,
set apart to a sacred use, while $7.5 Kedesh,
26 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
the noun, means : Sanctuary, seat of worship.
The Oxford Gesenius, which, while it retains
the massive learning of the great lexicographer,
embodies the best results of the latest Hebrew
scholarship, through the combined labours of
Professors Driver, Brown, and Briggs, says that
the verb furnishes the original idea of separation,
withdrawal, apartness, sacredness, holiness ; while
the noun means Sanctuary.
The first thought connected with sanctuary is
that it is a sacred or consecrated place. A
temple implies a sanctuary, and the word as used
in the Old Testament is well defined in Exodus,
" Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may
dwell among them." But the word sanctuary
has a wider meaning. It is a sacred asylum or
refuge, a place of protection. It is also used in
the sense of rights of sanctuary, of the privileges
attached to certain places by virtue of which
accused persons, when they fled to them, were
able to obtain protection for a longer or shorter
The sanctuary, to the saints of old, meant any
place in which God deigned to dwell or to
manifest Himself. Thus Jacob, when he awoke
from the dream, in which God visited him with
such manifest lessons of His loving care, said,
" This is none other than the house of God, and
this is the gate of heaven." So William Cowper,
the Christian poet, could write,
JESUS CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY 27
" Where er they seek Thee Thou art found,
And every place is hallowed ground."
But God also met His people in a special
manner in His house. " Ye shall reverence my
sanctuary." The tabernacle was His sanctuary,
as was also the temple, afterwards, and indeed the
synagogues also, as places set apart for prayer
and the study of the Divine Word.
The holy of holies was also designated the
sanctuary. The altar furnished rights of asylum
in Israel. At the corners of the altar were four
horn-shaped wooden projections overlaid with
brass, to which the victims were tied in sacrifice,
and which were smeared with blood in the sin
offering. The symbolical meaning of the horns
was might, and they were object lessons of the
mighty salvation and the perfect security which
God gives to the believing soul in approaching
Him, and of the mercy which He offers to the
sons of men. Here was the inviolable sanctuary,
grasping which the refugee, if free from criminal
intent, was safe from the strongest, for his appeal
was not only to the mercy of man, but also to the
protection of the Almighty. It was this sanctuary
which Adonijah sought when he "feared because
of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold
on the horns of the altar " (i Kings i. 50). The
unhappy prince refused to leave this sure sanc
tuary, unless Solomon under solemn oath would
give him a promise of safe-keeping. So Joab,
28 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
for the same cause, " fled into the tabernacle of
the Lord, and caught hold on the horns of the
As a general principle all heathen temples and
altars afforded the privileges of sanctuary,
protected by the rule that it was a sacrilegious
act to attempt to remove by force, or to offer
bodily harm to any person who had sought the
protection of a deity. The provision made in the
Jewish economy by which a refugee was kept free
of all expense for good, did not obtain, however,
amongst the heathen, and he was only allowed to
remain while his means lasted. The celebrated
temple of Diana at Ephesus acquired rights of
protection, even beyond its own boundary walls,
and made a part of the city proper a sanctuary.
Grote tells us, in his history of Greece, that
Pleistoanax, king of Sparta, lived for a long time
in sanctuary, near the temple of Athene at Tegea.
We read in the Book of Judges that the house
of the god Berith (El-berith) in Shechem
contained an asylum, or place of refuge in a
" hold," for one thousand men.
In early days the right to take refuge in a
Christian Church was recognized both by Church
and State. The first Christian emperors granted
this privilege with the clear understanding that it
was not to be used to frustrate the ends of justice
by sheltering hardened offenders and systematic
criminals, but to afford a refuge to the innocent,
JESUS CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY 29
the weak, and the misunderstood. Abuses soon
sprang up, however, even the worst criminals
received protection, and the right of sanctuary
was abolished, except in a few churches.
The idea gained a strong hold upon the popular
mind, which is illustrated from more standpoints
than one by the case of Guntramn, king of the
Franks, in 561, who thought when he entered the
Church at Aries that he required no guard of
soldiers. Yet when he was attacked by an
assassin, it was considered to be sacrilege to put
to death even the man who attempted the
murder, because he had been dragged from the
The privilege belonged to many Churches
in England, notably Westminster Abbey and
Beverley Minster. The sanctuary knocker is
still shown at Durham Cathedral. At Beverley
Minster, one of the most interesting objects is
the ancient " Frith Stol " (Stool of Peace),
which bears every evidence of very great
antiquity. It is probably older than any portion
of the Minster. In A.D. 938, when Athelstane
was returning from his great victory over the
Scots, he gave Beverley Minster the right of
sanctuary. Sanctuary extended in the old days
for over a mile each way from the Church, and
crosses were put up to mark the boundaries
which remained until modern times. But the
" Frith Stol " was the most sacred spot of all.
3 o THE CITIES OF REFUGE
Whoever attempted to drag a fugitive from this
sacred seat, however guilty he might seem to
be, was held to be committing a sacrilege, from
which no mere money payment could ever free
Tradition says that Sebert, the first Christian
king of Essex (A.D. 604), conferred the peculiar
right of sanctuary upon the Church at West
minster. Dean Stanley shows that the immunity
given was much abused, and says that " the
precincts of the Abbey were a vast cave of
Adullam for all the distressed and discontented
in the metropolis who desired, according to the
phrase of the time, to take Westminster." But
it was not without its good uses. Innocence
often found a refuge from wrong. The queen
of Edward IV. fled to Westminster, in her
distress ; and within the walls of that Sanctuary,
Edward V. first saw the light. And such was the
feeling of awe towards it that the base designs of
Richard III. were long kept in check, because the
young Duke of York was kept in sanctuary by
his mother at Westminster, of which the Queen
said, " I reckon him secure ... in this
Sanctuary, whereof was there never yet tyrant
so devilish that durst presume to break."
Jesus Christ is the true Sanctuary. He fulfils
all that the city of refuge suggested. He is our
Kedesh, our place of refuge, our sanctuary, our
sacred place. His name is Saviour, and He is
JESUS CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY 31
mighty to save. " The name of the Lord is a
strong tower, the righteous runneth into it, and is
safe " (Prov. xviii. 10).
The altar was the meeting place between God
and the transgressor, where the innocent victim
was offered in the place of the guilty sinner. So
Christ is the true altar, the meeting place
between God and man, the one and only
Priest, the one and only sacrifice, the one and
only atonement for sin. Then again the horns
of the altar were symbols of mercy and grace,
freely offered and freely given by God. They
told of hope and of safety. To grasp the altar
horns was to lay hold of God s strength and to
rest under the shadow of His protecting love.
So Christ is at once our shelter and our strength.
He surrounds the believer as with a temple wall,
keeps him in safety from all enemies and in peace
amidst all alarms.
There is a story of the Highlands of Scotland
which has been told many times to illustrate
Highland honour. It is connected with the clan
Macgregor, of famous memory. It seems that a
son of the great chieftain was killed in a fight in
an inn on the moors of Glenorchy. The man-
slayer, a young man named Lament, fled for his
life from the angry clansmen, and mounting his
horse, galloped in the darkness of the night at
full speed until he reached a house in which he
sought a refuge from his pursuers. It happened
32 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
to be the house of the chieftain himself, who
possessed such " wondrous length and strength of
arm." " Save my life," the fugitive cried, " for
men are after me to take it away." " Whoever
you are," said Macgregor, " while you are under
my roof you are safe." The words were no
sooner said than the pursuers were at the gate,
thundering for admittance. They called loudly,
" Has a stranger just entered the house? " " He
has," said the chief. " And what may be your
business with him ? " " He has slain your son,"
was the quick reply. " Give him up to us for
vengeance." The sad and terrible news rilled the
house with weeping and lamentation, the great
chieftain was broken-hearted, his eyes streamed
with tears, he could hardly speak through his
sobs, anger and sorrow fought against truth and
honour in his breast, but the right triumphed,
and he said, " No ; you cannot have the youth,
for he has Macgregor s word for his safety, and
as God lives, while he is in my house, he shall
stay secure." It was a noble sentiment, from a
heart of stainless honour, and we need not wonder
at the faith which animated the Clan in their
gatherings, under every form of proscription :
" While there s leaves on the forest, or foam on the river,
Macgregor, despite them, shall flourish for ever."
The story is a reflection of the love of Christ,
as shown in a wild highland chief, for the
JESUS CHRIST OUR SANCTUARY 33
Lord Jesus long centuries before had given His
own gracious promise, " Him that cometh unto
Me I will in no wise cast out." And God, whom
He came to reveal, was shown to be a God of
love, the protector of all that trust in Him, our
refuge and strength, a very present help in time
of trouble. " They shall never perish," was His
encouraging word, " and none is able to pluck
them out of My Father s hand."
The temple was God s sanctuary of old. It
represented God dwelling in the midst of Israel,
and Israel drawing near to God in the appointed
way. Christ is the true sanctuary. His Man
hood-, " The Word was made flesh, and dwelt
(eerK^vaxrev tabernacled) among us," is the
" tabernacle of meeting " between man and God.
His glorified body passed into the holiest place,
where He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
It is in Christ that God dwells with us, for "in
Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead
bodily" (Col. ii. 9), and it is through our abiding
in Him and He in us, that God dwells with us
and in us and is our sanctuary, and in Whom we
have grace, blessing, and peace.
Kedesh, the city of the holy place of the
sanctuary, points to Jesus the holy one of God,
who is our one and only Refuge, the strong tower
of the Lord in which we are safe for time and for
eternity. Happy he who in trusting faith looks
to Jesus as a refuge. It is related of that master-
34 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
mind of the English Church, the great Christian
apologist, Bishop Butler, that as he was on his
death-bed he said to his chaplain, " I know that
Jesus Christ is a Saviour but how am I to know
that He is a Saviour to me ? " The chaplain
simply answered, " My Lord, it is written, Him
that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.
The dying Bishop was lost in thought for a few
minutes, but into his heart there came that blessed
assurance which is the fruit of accepting Jesus as
a personal Saviour; then he said, " I have often
read and thought of that scripture, but never till
this moment did I feel its full power, and now I
Jesus Christ our Strength
" How grew its shadowing pile at length
A symbol in the Hebrew tongue,
Of God s eternal love and strength ? "
/. G. Whittier.
" Only when thine arm
In sense of weakness reaches forth to God,
Wilt thou be strong to suffer and to do."
"Man s wisdom is to seek
His strength in God alone ;
And even an angel would be weak
Who trusted in his own.
" I have no help but Thine, nor do I need
Another arm save Thine to lean upon.
It is enough, my Lord ! enough indeed ;
My strength is in Thy might, Thy might alone."
" Sin, Thou hast blotted out, and Thou
Our Kedesh City an ;
Our Shcchem too, Thou dearest its,
The signet on Thine heart."
THE second city of refuge was Shechem,
the Neapolis of the Romans, the modern
Nablus. It was situated in the hill
country of Ephraim, and occupied a
splendid site of great natural beauty. It has
been called the paradise of Palestine, the
enchanted fairyland. Gerizim, the mount of
blessing, and Ebal, the mount of cursing, protected
it on either side, and at the base of each were not
more than 500 yards apart. These two mountains
lift their heads 800 feet above the valley, and
2,500 feet above the Mediterranean. The valley
itself possesses a rich soil composed of black
vegetable mould, and is well watered throughout.
It is filled with fruit orchards, vegetable gardens,
Shechem is rich in historical associations, and
consecrated by many precious memories. Its
name is familiar to every attentive reader of
Scripture. It is also known as Sychem and
some authorities think as Sychar. It was at
Shechem that God first appeared unto
Abraham, the great father of the faithful,
38 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
on his entrance into the Holy Land (Gen.
xii. 6). It was at Shechem that Jacob cleared
his house of idols, and buried the images and
amulets under Abraham s oak. Jotham s parable
was spoken at Shechem, finding a natural setting
in the trees which flourished in the neighbour
hood. There Abraham built an altar. There
Jacob re-entered the promised land and built an
altar for worship which he called El-Elohe-Israel,
God the God of Israel. Jacob s well was there.
There Joseph was buried when the Israelites took
possession of Caanan. There Joshua read "the
words of the law, the blessing, and the curse,"
as all Israel stood " half in front of Mount
Gerizim and half in front of Mount Ebal." There
Jesus taught the woman of Samaria at Jacob s
well the great lesson concerning the Water of
Life, and pointed His disciples to the vast
spiritual harvest field of the world.
Shechem was the chief city of Ephraim, and
on the division of the kingdom at Solomon s
death Jeroboam made it the capital of the
northern kingdom. It became the centre of
the religious system of the Samaritans as
Jerusalem was of the Jews, and the civil capital
Shechem still retains something of its ancient
importance, and is now the seat of government
of the Province, " and eloquent homage to its
immemorial rank it is the connecting link of the
JESUS CHRIST OUR STRENGTH 39
telegraphic systems of the east and the west of
There is a special interest in the meaning ot
Shechem. According to Fiirst Q ?^ Shakham,
the verb means : To bend, incline oneself in the
neck and back, to be bent, said of a shoulder
bearing a burden, to load upon camels or beasts
of burden for the commencement of a journey ;
and Q^ Shechem the noun means : the back
which is inclined for carrying a burden. The
Oxford Gesenius states that the root meaning
of the verb is unknown. The Ethiopic has a
denominative signifying to carry on the shoulder.
In the Hiphil species in Hebrew, the verb
is used to signify to start, rise early, load
beasts of burden for a journey ; the noun
signifies shoulder, probably the shoulder (saddle)
of a mountain.
The Hebrew word may well be taken to mean
a shoulder, or more properly, the upper part of the
back just below the neck. The shoulder repre
sents and is a natural symbol of strength. It is
used of willingness to help or sustain, as for
instance the shouldering of responsibility. It has
the thought of support, that upon which some
thing is laid, or which holds it up. We speak of
" putting one s shoulder to the wheel," when we
think of help that will prove really effective and
lead to the overcoming of the difficulty. We say
" shoulder to shoulder " when we wish to convey
40 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
the thought of united action and of mutual co
operation in any work.
The spiritual lessons are many and important.
The names of Israel s twelve tribes were carried
on the high priest s shoulders. " Thou shalt take
two onyx stones, and grave on them the names
of the children of Israel," " and thou shalt put
the two stones upon the shoulder-pieces of the
ephod, for stones of memorial unto the children
of Israel ; and Aaron shall bear their names before
the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial "
(Ex. xxviii. 9, 12).
This was a great object lesson in spiritual
things. It signified that the fearful burden of the
sins and sorrows of God s people was all borne
in before the Lord. It also suggested that the
names were presented before the Lord to be kept
ever in the divine remembrance.
And so it is that Christ, our great High Priest,
He who has all power in heaven and earth, bears
ever upon His shoulders in the heavenly temple
the precious jewels of His glorious salvation, and
keeps before His Father s eye the names of His
people. Not one name is wanting, " He calleth
His own sheep by name," not one is forgotten*
" I know mine own."
" Those characters shall fair abide,
Our everlasting trust,
When gems, and monuments, and crowns
Are mouldered down to dust."
JESUS CHRIST OUR STRENGTH 41
Jesus Christ is the great Burden-bearer. He
bears the weight of our sin and of our sorrow.
He is the great spiritual Samson. Upon the
cross He bore the burden of the world s guilt.
The sins of mankind according to the word of
promise, " He shall bear their iniquities," were
laid upon Him. He was the very paschal Lamb
which " taketh away," or " beareth," as it is in
the margin, the sin of the whole world. And it
was by "taking upon Himself our infirmities,"
that Christ took them away.
He bears the burden of our earthly load of
sorrow and of trouble, of trial and of loss. We
are taught to cast all our care upon Him for He
careth for us, to hurl, as the strong word might
be translated, it is far more energetic than
"laying," our burden upon the Lord, for He is
ready to sustain us. And we know that His
promises are ever sure.
One, who ascended the Righi, gained a great
spiritual blessing from the guide, in the lesson
which he taught along the line of duty. The
first thing that he did in the ascent was to ask
for all outside wraps, and to place them most
carefully, when bound together, on his shoulders.
But the climber kept a number back. They were
soon found, however, to be a hindrance to freedom
of movement, if not indeed a danger. But still
they were clung to, until while resting for a
moment, the guide most respectfully, but none
42 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
the less firmly, required that everything should be
given up, but the alpenstock. He then put all
with the greatest care upon his shoulders and led
the way. There was not only the possibility of
double speed, but there was as well double safety.
It all came like a flash of light, the folly of it, the
wilfulness of it, not to follow Jesus implicitly, to
cast all upon Him, just to take Him as Guide
and to trust Him fully.
" Cast care aside, lean on Thy Guide ;
His boundless mercy will provide.
Christ is the strength of His people. He is our
" Shechem," our strength. The shoulder is fitted
for the burden, and Christ answers every need of
man s being. His grace is sufficient for us and
His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
He gives strength for the day and to meet the
varied needs of man s changing life.
" His faithful word declares to thee,
That as thy day strength shall be. "
" He giveth power to the faint, and to them
that have no might He increaseth strength."
The Christian believer, while he may be called
to bear his cross, to meet the trials of life, to
face the dark day of sorrow and bitter loss, yet
whatever the difficulty, whatever the struggle,
there is given unto him grace for every time of
need, and a supply of strength, as the occasion
JESUS CHRIST OUR STRENGTH 43
He has engaged, by firm decree,
That as thy days thy strength shall be. "
The blessed secret of this strength is the life of
constant faith in the Lord Jesus, and the presence
and power of the Holy Spirit in the heart. And
so the apostle writes, " Be strong in the Lord,
and in the power of His might." It is not in our
selves, but in Christ, Who said, " without Me
ye can do nothing." But in Christ we can do
all things, there is nothing impossible to the life
which is linked by faith in Christ to God. And
so St. Paul in triumphant faith could declare,
" I can do all things through Christ which
strengtheneth me." He is not afraid to say, for
it is the language of humility, as well as of faith,
I can do all things, " in Him Who giveth me
power." It is because of the vital union between
the believer and the Saviour, a union which would
hardly seem possible to us, and be beyond our
dreams, if God had not revealed it in the most
positive way, the union of our life with the life of
Christ, He in us and we in Him, that this strength
Jesus Christ is our " Shechem " in that the govern
ment is upon His shoulder. So Isaiah declared
"The government shall be upon His shoulder."
It was the custom to wear the ensign of office
upon the shoulder, the idea behind the practice
being that the government was being held up or
sustained. So it was foretold of Jesus, " And the
44 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
key of the house of David will I lay upon His
shoulder." The two primary needs of man s
soul are forgiveness of sins, and strength to live a
new life. These Christ alone supplies. He is
our strength, in that He is omnipotent power,
and united to Him by faith we draw from that
rich supply according to our need.
3csus Christ our Jfvicnb
" My only refuge is Thy grace."
" There is a spot where spirits blend,
And friend holds fellowship with friend.
" Tisonly in Thee hiding,
I feel my life secure ;
Only in Thee abiding,
The conflict can endure."
/. G. Deck.
" No longer outcasts from our home,
We now in Hebron dwell ;
In fellowship with God and Thee,
And joy unspeakable."
" Jesus, I love to trace,
Throughout the sacred page,
The footsteps of Thy grace,
The same in ev ry age.
O grant that I may faithful be
To clearer light vouchsafd to me."
" We most humbly beseech Thee, O heavenly Father, so
to assist us with Thy grace, that we may continue in that
holy fellowship. Post Communion Prayer,
THE ancient and picturesque city of Hebron
was also chosen as a City of Refuge.
It rivalled even Damascus itself in its
antiquity, and was said to have been
built seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Numbers
xiii. 22). Zoan, once the pride of Egypt, the
royal city boasted an earlier origin than any place
in that ancient land. And Knobel thought that
Hebron and Zoan had probably a common
founder, perhaps one of the Hyksos or Shepherd
Kings, possibly the Anakim of the Scripture
It is known in history, also as Kirjath-Arba,
"the City of Arba," a mighty man of valour
amongst the warlike Anakim, justly celebrated for
his great stature and Herculean strength.
Hebron became a part of the inheritance of Caleb
at the conquest, and was then given, or had
restored to it, its true name: Hebron, company,
fellowship, friendship. The ancient and truly
significant designation has been altered by the
changing conditions of the place, but the old
meaning, though in another tongue, remains, for
it is still called el Khalil, " The Friend."
Hebron was the early home of Abraham, the
" Friend of God," when, after his separation from
Lot, he received from God a direct grant of the
gracious land of Palestine. It was at Hebron
that the heavenly visitants brought the glad tid
ings of the birth of a son ; there Abraham erected
an altar for the worship of God ; and it became
consecrated soil, the cemetery or sleeping place of
the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ;
and of Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah as well.
It was fitting, with such associations, that
David should fix upon Hebron as his royal city.
Indeed, it was by divine direction, for when David
" enquired of the Lord " " Whither shall I go up? "
God said " Unto Hebron."
The sacred associations (however perverted)
still cling about the place, for the Mohammedans
esteem it one of the four holiest sanctuaries of the
world. The cave Machpelah, which contains the
sacred dust of the Father of the Faithful, of the
spiritual fathers and mothers of Israel, and as
some have believed that of Adam himself, has not
been entered for some six centuries or more. The
mosque which stands upon the site, probably an
early Christian church, is even more jealously
guarded than the mosque of Omar at Jerusalem.
For many centuries it was most carefully kept from
the "infidel" gaze of Christians and Jews. An
JESUS CHRIST OUR FRIEND 49
Italian once entered the mosque in disguise, and
AH Bey, a Spanish renegade, was allowed to join
with Moslem worshippers, while in modern times
Pierotti, as government engineer, was allowed to
examine the building. King Edward the Seventh,
when travelling as Prince of Wales, was given
free access to the mosque in 1862, accompanied
by his suite, of which Dean Stanley was a
member, but the sacred cave was most
rigorously kept from any supposed profanation.
The name Hebron, as we study its origin,
suggests a most beautiful meaning.
Fiirst tells us that "Q the verb Hhabhar
means : To be strung together, to be bound, to be
associated, to unite; and that the noun ^^
Hebhron signifies : A city, from the idea of join
ing, association. The Oxford Gesenius says that
the root meaning of Hhabar is to unite, to bind,
to be joined, and that Hebron means association,
Dr. Young gives its meaning as " Company."
Dr. Adam Clarke translates it quite freely as
fellowship, friendly association. Canon Faussett
tells us that Hebron means fellowship ; and the
Mohammedans most suggestively name the
modern Hebron Beit el-Khalil, that is, the house
of the Friend (of God).
Whichever meaning be taken, the name is
fragrant with lessons concerning Christ, Who in
Himself fulfils, and far more than fulfils, all that
5 o THE CITIES OF REFUGE
Hebron the City of Refuge meant in old time.
In the quaint and strikingly beautiful words of
John Mason :
" Christ is my Father and my Friend,
My Brother and my Love,
My Head, my Hope, my Counsellor,
My Advocate above."
And as language failed the poet to express all
that Christ is to His believing people, he thus
broke forth :
" My Christ, what shall I call ?
My Christ is First, my Christ is last,
My Christ is All in All."
Jesus Christ is indeed our Hebron.
Is He not the secret of our Fellowship with
God ? The leading principle of the mighty plan
of Salvation is that Jesus Christ is the only
mediator between God and man. He is then the
medium of fellowship with God. Now fellowship
is a tremendous privilege. It is an Icelandic
word which conveys the idea of partnership, or
community of interest, literally " a laying together
of property," or " a money partnership." We are,
as Adam Clarke wisely puts it, joined with God
in "friendly association."
And it is through Christ that we have fellowship
one with another. He is the true bond of union
between man and man, in Christian brotherhood.
It is through Him, as we are united to Him by
faith, that we are able to say, " I believe in the
JESUS CHRIST OUR FRIEND 51
Communion of Saints." He is the centre, and as
the spokes of a wheel draw nearer together as they
approach the hub, so Christians enter into closer
bonds of union as they draw near to Christ.
Jesus Christ is indeed our Hebron.
He is " The Friend."
Jesus is the Friend of Sinners. The proof of
His friendship is in the love with which He loves
them, is in His great love-quest, as he seeks to
save the lost and wandering sons of men, and
lead them home to God.
Jesus Christ is the Friend of the Sorrowing and
the Suffering. " There is a Friend that sticketh
closer than a brother." It is in the hour of trial
and of bitter loss that friendship is most precious,
and it is then that Jesus shows how real and how
true is His friendship for His people. " When
thou passest through the waters I will be with
thee." If Seneca could tell the courtier in
Rome who had lost his son that he had no cause
to mourn, either for that or ought else, since
Caesar was his friend, what comfort to the
Christian to know that there is no person, and no
power, in all the universe of being able to separate
him from the love of Christ.
Jesus Christ leads His people into the fulness ot
His Friendship. Aristotle defined friendship as
the existence of two souls in one body. Christ
made it by His Spirit an abiding life : " Abide in
Me, and I in you." It is not only intimacy but
52 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
nearness, not only nearness but identity : one
thought, one heart, one life. The friendship of
Jesus is friendship indeed. It is marked every
where by its intense reality. It knows no change.
There is in it the spirit of undying constancy.
He is a faithful friend. What a contrast to the
attitude of Jesus Christ is that illustrated by the
saying of Horace Walpole, " If one of my friends
happens to die, I drive down to St. James Coffee
House and bring home a new one." The friend
ship of Jesus is perennial, it never dies, it is proof
against all the shocks of time, against all the
varying vicissitudes of human life, against every
impairing and impeding influence which may
stand in the way of its exercise. It has been
asserted of radium, that it is " immutable among
mutable things." This statement may be
affirmed absolutely of the friendship of Jesus, for
it is eternal like the life of God.
In all ages men have admired, and praised, and
treasured friendship. It is the most beautiful and
fragrant flower that man meets in his earthly pil
grimage. Is it any wonder that he seeks it and
prizes it, and wears it upon his heart ? It brightens
and refreshes his life. Our Shakespeare has
enshrined for us in noble lines the thought of its
"Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel."
The poet thought only of human friendship,
JESUS CHRIST OUR FRIEND 53
but Jesus is both human and divine. And He
offers us the fulness of His great heart of love.
He tenders you His friendship, He invites your
trust, He desires your love. He thus becomes
your " Hebron," in whose undying friendship you
may trust both for time and for eternity.
The fellowship of Christ is a glorious privilege
to the Christian who rests in Christ, the refuge of
his soul. It is the communication to his heart-
life of all the rich treasures of blessing which the
Son has in the Father, for truly, " our fellowship
is with the Father and with His Son Jesus
Christ." It is heart to heart converse, the con
cord of the mind brought into harmony with the
Divine. It is a partnership, for the thought is most
practical, a sharing of the things of God with His
believing child, a unity of thought and action. It is
the privilege of access to God, and the throne of
His grace, a sanctified intercourse with the Father
of our spirits, and an abundant entrance into all
the blessings of His love.
The Christian believer " in Christ " has direct
and immediate fellowship with the Lord Jesus
Christ through faith ; and as he walks " in the
light " he has fellowship with his fellow-
Christians, through Christ who unites him with
all that are in Christ Jesus. Christians are
thus drawn in closer bonds of fellowship, and
loving Christ they love one another ; while
fellowship with the Father is through Christ
THE CITIES OF REFUGE
alone, Who said " I am the Way ; no man
cometh unto the Father but by Me."
It is a fellowship of life, a vital union, an
abiding and eternal life, which is only to be found
in Christ, Who is the Life. The Cities of Refuge
were a striking emblem of the safety of one
who, convinced of sin, fled to the only One Who
could save and help. Believing he has life, and
he lives the life of faith. It is a present fact, and
an eternal possession. It belongs not only pre
eminently, but exclusively, to Christ ; "this life is
in His Son." And the life that Christ gives He
guards unto eternity, " I give unto them eternal
life, and they shall never perish."
This life must be fed, for life calls for nourish
ment, and nothing short of divine food can satisfy
the longing of the soul. The Bread of Heaven
alone can meet the immortal need, the Water
of Life alone refresh, for it is
"A thirst no earthly stream could satisfy
A hunger that must feed on Christ or die."
It was a divine provision that in the Cities of
Refuge the necessaries of life should be kept at
all times. Food and water were to be on hand,
at whatever cost. In Christ there is life, " He
that hath the Son hath life," and it is Christ
Who sustains the life He gives. " I am," said
the Lord Jesus, " the Bread of Life." Bread is
in itself a perfect symbol of the food essential to
JESUS CHRIST OUR FRIEND 55
the nourishment and preservation of physical
life. It suits all conditions and all constitutions,
from youth to old age. And the fruit of the vine
is the natural symbol of refreshment.
Christ is indeed our Hebron. In Him we have
fellowship divine. In the sacred feast which
Jesus makes, we have a Holy Communion. It is
the Lord s Supper, in which the Bread is the
bread of the Covenant, and in all ages to par
take of one s table, and to eat of one s bread has
been a sign and seal of friendship and of fellow
ship. The Cup, as the Lord Jesus declared, is
the New Covenant in His blood. It is the cup of
blessing, containing as it does the covenant-wine,
which speaks louder than trumpet tongue of " the
blood of the everlasting covenant," the blood by
which He has made peace upon the cross, the
blood by which we have access, and enter into
fellowship with the Father, " in Christ Jesus, ye
who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the
blood of Christ."
The Holy Communion is a veritable means of
fellowship, by which the memory of the loving
Saviour is kept green in our hearts, the flame of
love to Him is kept burning brightly in our lives,
the memory of His Divine Person is ever renewed
in our minds, and the spirit of trust is constantly
increased and strengthened in Christ Himself.
And as we approach the Sacrament of His love,
in simple faith, believing His Word, and trusting
56 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
Him fully, our souls are nourished and refreshed
by His most precious Body and Blood, we
spiritually feed upon Him, and receive in the
hand of faith, the spiritual food, the living and
true Bread, and the spiritual refreshment, which
the true Vine alone can supply, so that in our
heart of hearts " we spiritually eat the flesh of
Christ and drink His blood."
Jesus Christ out Jfovtvess
" Who trusts in God s unchanging love,
Builds on the rock that naught can move."
" The race is run, the fight is fought,
All the pilgrims cares are dreams,
When that dawn of morning gleams. 1
" The only sure foundation Thou,
The only Fortress made
Invincible to hostile powers ;
The only Sim and Shade"
" Safe within Bezels lofty towers,
We can look down and smile
Upon the dangers and the griefs
Which seemed so dread erewhile."
THE message of the Gospel and its com
forting truths, as we have already seen,
were wonderfully foreshadowed in the
Cities of Refuge. They show forth Christ,
in His great redeeming work of love for
the souls of men. They illustrate especially
the way of life. They were types of Christ,
and their names express some particular
attribute or office of the Divine Redeemer. In
Kedesh we find in Him as the holy one a
Sanctuary, in Shechem the shoulder, the " secret
of spiritual Strength," in Hebron our Friend,
" who sticketh closer than a brother," and who
gives us Fellowship with God and man.
It was necessary, on account of the natural divi
sion of the Holy Land by the Jordan, that provision
should be made on both sides of the river, so
that no Israelite who sought a refuge should be
at a disadvantage in the race for safety and pro
tection. Three cities were therefore appointed,
"on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward."
The first of these was Bezer. It is mentioned,
60 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
Driver remarks, on the Moabite Stone, as one of
the cities rebuilt by Mesha.
Bezer stood in the wilderness in the plain
country or table land, but has not been identified
with certainty in the present day. It was a
Reubenite city allotted to the family of Merari,
one of the progenitors of the three great families
of the Levites, consecrated to the service of God,
and who bore the heaviest burden in connection
with the removal of the tabernacle throughout all
the wanderings of the Children of Israel. It
was situated on the smooth downs of Moab east
of the Jordan.
The name Bezer is full of meaning, and
strikingly suggestive. Fiirst notes that the verb
~>S3 Batsar means : To gather grapes, to lessen,
shorten, to cut off from something, to separate,
to fortify as of walls ; while the noun ~)2f2 Betser
means : Place of ore, gold, silver broken out of
the mine ; strong place. God is a fortress. The
Oxford Gesenius says that the verb means to cut
off, make inaccessible especially by fortifying,
enclose ; the noun denoting a fortress, and pos
sibly precious ore, from the idea of separation.
The meaning of the name is thus variously
given. The generally accepted interpretation is
Strong, a fortification and therefore a stronghold,
a fortress, taking the meaning to enclose,
encompass with a wall, and arising from this,
a fortified place, and hence goods or treasure
JESUS CHRIST OUR FORTRESS 61
thus secured from injury. But it may mean also
gold earth, fair ore or gold ore.
If we take the meaning of stronghold it conveys
the thought of a fastness, a place of security from
enemies. If we take fortress it suggests a strongly
fortified place of some considerable extent. Its
leading thought is a place of safety from foes
who may wish to injure or to destroy us, a place
of security in the day of conflict, the hour of trouble.
Its meaning would come with power to a people
who had been engaged in a long warfare, or who
were beset with foes on every side. A fortress was
to them a necessity without which there could be
no feeling of security, no hope of safety. It
was specially necessary where the weak were
called upon to resist the strong.
The art of fortification goes back to the earliest
history of our race. It grew out of the necessity
of the case, the need of mutual help and pro
tection drew men together into one place, and it
became necessary to study self-defence for their
families and for their property against sudden
attacks from their enemies. It was essential that
in times of war there should be a sufficient food
supply, carefully guarded against attack. In
early days a single wall was sufficient, and walls
were, as a rule, made of brick. The walls of
cities were soon, however, made very strong and
permanent. The walls of Babylon were sixty
miles in extent. Herodotus, who personally
62 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
visited Babylon, declares that the walls were
eighty-seven feet in breadth and three hundred and
fifty feet in height. The defences of Jerusalem,
though different in character from Babylon, were
none the less effective. It is related that in the
great siege by Vespasian, all the Roman battering
rams and other engines of destruction only
succeeded in one night in disengaging four stones
from the masonry in the tower of Antonia.
The main object of a fortress is to provide a
defence for the weak against the strong. The
aim is to render a place secure against the attacks
of an enemy. It is man s work, though man
often but makes use of the natural advantages of
a position as it came from the hands of the
Creator. The words fortify, fortress, fort, are all
derived from/orris, strong, and the idea is that addi
tional strength is given in warfare to one party
over another. The Duke of Wellington was a
master of the science of fortification, and made
free and full use of the art of the engineer. He
saw that an army entrenched or fortified in the
field possesses almost the same advantages as if
it were in a fortress. The lines of Torres Vedras,
covering fifty miles and containing fifty forts,
which held in check a powerful French army
under Massena, and which saved Portugal, were
planned by Wellington, and were, perhaps, the
most remarkable line of defence ever constructed.
Jesus Christ is our spiritual Fortress.
JESUS CHRIST OUR FORTRESS 63
It is a happy personal experience to realize in
any sense what a great mercy even temporal
safety is. But what a tremendous privilege
is spiritual safety. Dr. R. W. Dale, who was such
a great intellectual and spiritual force in English
non-conformity, wrote to his brother on his
fortieth birthday : " It is a great thing to have
forty years behind you without any great catas
trophe and shame. The ice cracks in such
unexpected places the ship is so apt to strike on
rocks where the chart gave no warning of them
that mere safety seems to me a much greater
reason for thankfulness than it used to be."
In Christ we are safe from every enemy.
In Him alone there is ample security for time and
for eternity. In the world of sense there may or
there may not be, safety in material things, from
an enemy in a fortress, from the rifle shot behind
the earth work ; but in the spiritual world safety
is only to be found in a person, Who is Jesus
Christ. " There is none other name under
heaven given among men whereby we must be
In Him alone there is security against sin, its
fatal power, its evil influence, its terrible inroads,
its awful punishment. His name is Saviour, and
He is mighty to save.
In Him alone there is safety from the attacks of
Satan, from the darts of temptation which he
flings against the soul, from every wicked purpose
64 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
of the evil one. He protects all who trust in Him.
"The Lord Himself is thy keeper." " O my dove
thou art in the clefts of the rock."
In Him alone there is help in the day of trouble,
for He is the Saviour of the soul, who offers rest
and peace to all who put their trust in Him.
As Luther magnificently says in his noble
hymn, the great German war song, the Marseil
laise, as Heine calls it, of the Reformation :
" A fortress sure is God our King,
A shield that n er shall fail us ;
His sword alone shall succour bring
When evil doth assail us."
The poet s mind runs from one image to another
in the lines. For words fail to express adequately
all that God really is as a Saviour of His people.
And as he thinks of Satan s craft and cruel hate,
an invisible enemy armed with deadly power,
seeking whom he may devour, Luther quickly
passes from the figure of a fortress, and pictures a
champion sent of God, the sinner to deliver.
"And dost thou ask His name?
Tis Jesus Christ the same
Of Sabaoth the Lord,
The everlasting Word,
Tis He must win the battle."
Jesus Christ is our Stronghold. The stronghold
differs from the fortress in that it is often framed
by nature without the aid of man s art. Jesus
Christ is ever our Rock of Defence, our sure refuge
against every form of evil. He is the Rock of
JESUS CHRIST OUR FORTRESS 65
Ages " cleft to be a refuge " for the sinner against
the enemies of his soul, smitten to furnish the
river of the water of life, a protecting shade
against the fierce blast of sin, a hiding place from
the wind of temptation, a covert from every
tempest of evil that may beat against the soul of
He is our "Tower of Salvation," so high as to
be out of the reach of all dangers which fill us
with dread and nameless terror.
In that " Tower " there is safety for the sons of
men. The salvation which Christ has provided is
a wall about His people which no ladder can
scale, which cannot be battered down by the
engines of war, which cannot be undermined or
destroyed. " God is our refuge and strength, a
very present help in trouble." " The name of the
Lord is a strong tower ; the righteous runneth
into it and is safe." " Thou hast been a shelter
for me, and a strong tower from the enemy."
" The Lord is my rock and my fortress."
If we take " Bezer " to mean " gold ore," as Dr.
Patrick Fairbairn suggests, it adds even more to
its deep spiritual significance. For gold is ever
the great sinew of war. And while gold in
Scripture is symbolic of many different things, it
is peculiarly adapted to show forth the inestimable
value of the grace of Christ, which alone is true
spiritual wealth. " I counsel thee," said the
Lord Jesus, " to buy of Me gold tried in the fire,
66 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
that thou mayest be rich." And when faith
acquires, or rather appropriates the riches of
Christ, without money and without price, the
figure passes to the child of God. " The precious
sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold."
Christ then fulfils all that Bezer stood for as a
City of Refuge.
And we may well say that as gold is
above all other metals so Christ is above
all, is "All in All." He is the Pearl of
priceless worth, the Christian s true and only
real wealth. He possesses all the riches of
God, for it is written as one of God s greatest
promises. " How shall He not with Him
also freely give us all things ? " " My God
shall supply all your need according to His
riches in glory in Christ Jesus." In Christ we
have all the wealth of God, in Him all fulness
dwells, and as St. Paul declares, " Ye are com
plete in Him," as Dean Alford renders it : " Ye are
filled full in Christ," or as Bishop Lightfoot
translates it, " And ye are in Him being fulfilled."
For true life consists in union with Him, and of
His fulness all His people receive, drawing from
Him all the riches of His grace to meet their
spiritual need, for in Christ are all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge hidden. John Newton,
in one of his finest hymns one of the most
beautiful in the English language combines the
thoughts which cluster around Bezer : Jesus our
JESUS CHRIST OUR FORTRESS 67
Fortress, in Whom is treasured all the riches of
" Dear Name the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace."
Jesus Christ our 1beavenl\>
" So he who seeks a mansion in the sky,
Must watch his purpose with a stedfast eye.
IV m. Cowper.
" Oh let Thy hand support me still,
And lead me to Thy holy hill." Zinzendorf.
" Go up, go up, my heart,
Dwell with thy God above ;
For here thou canst not rest,
Nor here give out thy love."
" Though the Earth dispart these Earthlies, face from face,
Yet the Heavenlies shall surely join in Heaven,
For the spirit hath no bonds in time or space." Lytton.
" Thou Who wast Centre of all heights on the Mount of
Grant us to sit with Thee in heavenly places."
Christina G. Rossctti.
" And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man can
But if we could see and hear, this Vision were it not He?"
" In sight the gates of Ramoth stand,
Erst opened to our King ;
And soon within their shining walls,
His ransomed hosts He ll bring." J-E.J.
" To Pisgah s top I fly,
And there delighted stand,
To view beyond a shining sky,
The spacious promised land."
"The Lord of all the vast domain,
Has promis d it to me ;
The length and breadth of all the plain,
As far as faith can see." Wm. Coivper.
" For thou canst not rest until thou attain the highest
good, and find out the ultimate end ; which being recognized
and found, Thy restlessness shall cease."
Thomas A . Kempis,
RAMOTH in Gilead was a strong City of
Refuge. It was a fortress of consider,
able natural strength, the key of eastern
Palestine commanding Gilead, cele
brated from the earliest days for its aromatic
spices and balm.
Ramoth was situated in the territory of Gad,
and was therefore held by the Gadites, famous
soldiers of old time, " men of might and of war,
fit for the battle." Their " faces were the faces
of lions," and they were " as swift as the roes
upon the mountains," "one of the least was a
match for a hundred, and the greatest for a
They were evidently a bold, courageous, and
warlike people, constantly fulfilling the prophetic
words of Moses : " He dwelleth as a lion." But,
strong as they were, they remembered that the
battle is the Lord s, and of one of their most
famous victories it is said that they triumphed
" because they put their trust in Him." The
nature of the people, the conditions of the country
7 2 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
demanded a strong city of Refuge. And this
Ramoth was in every sense.
The name Ramoth is suggestive of spiritual
lessons of the greatest significance to the Christian.
Fiirst says that the word is from D-ll rum, or
DiO ra am, to be high ; and that rflDN") ramoth,
the plural noun, means Heights. The Oxford
Gesenius says the verb signifies to be high,
exalted ; the noun naturally signifying Heights.
Ramoth, then, means " heights," and, like its
kindred cities, indicates the most ample and
perfect security. It is from a word which means,
to be raised, made high, or exalted, and hence
eminence. It conveys the idea of " high places,"
a thought which finds its truest expression in the
great term of St. Paul, " the heavenly places,"
or "the heavenlies."
Jesus Christ is the true Ramoth.
In Christ we find a place of perfect safety,
for He is the citadel of the soul. In Christ we
find abundant provision for our every need, for in
Him all fulness dwells. In Christ we find that
we enjoy every spiritual privilege, for the Divine
Father" has blessed us with every spiritual bless
ing in the heavenlies in Christ."
Jesus Christ is our Ramoth.
St. Peter declared " Him hath God exalted
with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour."
He is the Prince of Glory, Who though He was
rich yet for oqr sakes became poor, that we
JESUS CHRIST OUR HEAVENLY HOME 73
through His poverty might become rich, Who
being originally in the form of God, emptied Him
self, and being made in the likeness of men,
humbled himself unto death, even the death of
the Cross. Wherefore, God hath highly exalted
Him, and made Him Lord of Lords, and King
of Kings, with all power in heaven and earth.
He is the Saviour of the world. The Son of Man
came " to seek and to save that which was lost."
This was His holy mission, His great love-quest.
And now He is able, as the Saviour-Prince, to
save to the uttermost all them that come to God
The believing sinner, with the burden of his
guilt upon him, finds a refuge in Christ at Mount
Calvary, enters into the fulness of the new life at
Mount Olivet, and is exalted with Christ to the
heavenlies. So St. Paul declares: " God, being
rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He
loved us, even when we were dead through our
trespasses, quickened us together with Christ (by
grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with
Him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly
places, in Christ Jesus." (Eph. ii. 5 R.V.)
There is a most real union between Christ and
Christians. It is nothing short of a vital union.
It has been compared by the Lord Jesus Himself
to the union which we find in nature, between the
vine and the vine branches. St. Paul likened it
to the unity of the human body, especially indi-
74 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
eating the vital connection which there is between
the head and the members. There is, therefore,
the closest relationship between Christ and His
people. Christ is in heaven as our great Head,
as our representative. Bishop Christopher
Wordsworth has well expressed the Christian s
privilege in these words :
" Thou hast raised our human nature in the clouds to
God s right hand,
There we sit in heavenly places, there with Thee in glory
The Christian s position with Jesus Christ in
the heavenlies is one of rich and precious privilege.
The believer s citizenship is in heaven, as the
apostle declares, he now possesses his constitu
tional rights, it is his country, the Commonwealth
to which he belongs by right. We have the same
thought in the words " I was born an English
man," conveying with it all the rights of citizen
ship, its privileges and powers in the British
The Christian in the person of his great Head,
Jesus Christ, has already entered the City of God,
the only city which is the eternal City. His
name is already enrolled there. He enjoys all
its privileges and immunities, his safety is pro
vided for, every possible good for time and for
eternity is his, and while he is upon his earthly
pilgrimage the Lord Himself is his keeper, and
an innumerable company of angels clothed with
JESUS CHRIST OUR HEAVENLY HOME 75
strength incorruptible guard his every footstep,
while His loving Father graciously supplies his
The Christian s position in regard to " the
heavenlies " is not some beautiful theory of life
which charms the imagination and dazzles the
fancy, but which has no foundation in sober fact.
St. Paul s teaching is clear as the day. The
believer is in the heavenly places by point of
right, based on his relationship to Christ ; in a
spiritual sense it is true virtually in spirit in the
present time of his earthly life, but looking for a
future reality of a presence which shall cover his
The Christian s Home is there, Heaven is His
The promise of Christ puts this beyond all
question. " I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again and receive you unto Myself, that
where I am there ye may be also." It is the
blessed home, where those who are "accepted
in the beloved" will enter into the perfect felicity
of His chosen. It is our Father s House, into
which we enter as His dear children, and " if
children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs
with Christ," possessing through His wondrous
grace the fulness of the glory. " The glory which
Thou hast given Me, I have given them."
The Christian s life centres in "the Heavenlies,"
76 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
He has risen with Christ, and ascended in
spirit, so that he sits with Christ on high,
finds his home with God, sets his aims and
affections heavenward, sees the full fruition of
his hopes all culminating there, places his
dearest treasures in that safe stronghold, and
remembers that it is his sure, and certain, and
The believer s privileges in the Heavenlies have
been the subject of much meditation and thought
in all the ages of Christian experience. John
Bunyan, the ingenious and immortal dreamer,
has given us two pictures of the blessed state
of which the Apostle writes.
The first is the view of the Delectable Moun
tains. These mountains are Emmanuel s Land.
Christian and Hopeful went up into the moun
tains, after their merciful deliverance from
Doubting Castle and Giant Despair. They found
Emmanuel s Land to be a delightful place. The
gracious shepherds of the Lord of the mountains
invited them to solace themselves with the good
of the Delectable mountains. They looked with
delight upon the gardens and orchards, the vine
yards and fountains of waters, finding everywhere
refreshment and renewal of strength. But, best
of all, from Emmanuel s Land the City of God
can be seen. Through the "perspective glass"
of faith the gates of the Celestial City can be
JESUS CHRIST OUR HEAVENLY HOME 77
" My Father s house on high,
Home of my soul, how near
At times to faith s foreseeing eye
Thy golden gates appear ! "
The place is one of privilege, and of glorious
anticipation of the perfect happiness that awaits
the believer in the more immediate presence of
The second picture of present blessedness is
the entrance into the "country of Beulah."
In that dear Beulah Land Christian and
Hopeful found that they were not only within
sight of heaven, but within its very borders. " In
this land the shining ones commonly walked."
The air was very sweet and pleasant, the birds
sang constantly, the flowers bloomed every day,
indeed there was no night, for the sun shone
always, and ever in their ears there rang out the
songs of the redeemed. There was a new joy in
their hearts which they had never known before.
It is but a step to the Heaven of unspeakable joy.
True the river had to be crossed, but that is
bridged with Promise. In Beulah Land, where
the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride, the land
of marriage, the Sun of Righteousness shineth
continually. " Wherefore this was beyond the
Valley of the Shadow of Death, and also out
of the reach of Giant Despair ; neither could
they from this place so much as see Doubting
78 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
The Christian s life on earth is a time of waiting,
a time of rich and blessed service, a time of
gracious peace, and holy joy, and expectant hope,
" Waiting for the morning,
The brightest and the best,
When He will call us to His side,
To be with Him, His spotless bride "
Jesus Christ our 3o\>
" We must dare to be happy .... regarding ourselves
always as the depositaries, and not as the authors of our
" Therefore will I be grateful, and therefore will I rejoice ;
My heart is singing within me ! sing on, O heart and voice."
" O Lord ! our separate lives destroy !
Merge in Thy gold our soul s alloy,
Pain is our own, and Thou art joy."
Lord Hough ton.
" His face
Shone like the countenance of a priest of old
Against the flame about a sacrifice,
Kindled by fire from heaven ; so glad was he."
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of Life, Thou Light of men
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again."
" Eternal, cloudless Joy is there,
Pleasures for evermore ;
For they who reach that blest abode
Go out from thence no more ! "
/. E. J.
"There is in man a Higher than Love of Happiness ;
he can do without Happiness, and instead thereof find
THE sixth and last City of Refuge was
Golan. It is described as Golan " in
Bashan, of the Manassites" (Deut. iv.
43). It afterwards gave the name to a
whole province, Gaulanitis, of New Testament
Golan was situated in the ancient land of
mystery and romance. It was amongst, if not
indeed, one of the giant cities of Bashan. And
Bashan, to the imagination of the poet-prophets
of Israel, was a land of beauty and of wealth, as
well as a land of fortresses and of fastnesses of
almost impregnable strength. The early in
habitants were of tremendous stature, in whose
presence the Jewish spies of the land felt as if
they were but grasshoppers. Never, throughout
their national history, did the Israelites forget
Sihon, king of the Amorites, or Og, the king of
Bashan, who were laid low before their conquering
army, through the intervention of the Most High.
Nor will the name of Goliath of Gath ever be
forgotten, while courage is honoured upon earth,
82 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
or faith regarded in heaven. The giants were
laid low, and the giant cities were taken by the
men of faith, and the national songs of Israel
ever bore testimony to the mercy of God which
The name Golan is fruitful in meaning. Fiirst
derives it from ^13 gill, the verb signifying to turn
oneself in a circle, to surround, to embrace,
enclose; hence the noun, ]b^2 Golan, a circuit, a
^5 is sometimes used to denote joy,
probably because a whirling motion in a circle is
indicative of a joyous feeling. Gesenius practic
ally gives the same meaning, but notes that the
verb ^ to go round, or about, also means
Dr. Patrick Fairbairn gives an interpretation,
which, however, does not seem to rest on as good
authority : !"63 , gala, to be captive, to go
forth, to emigrate.
It requires no mystic to see the beauty and
suggestiveness of the name, whichever interpreta
tion be taken.
If Golan means, as has been claimed, circle, to
embrace, enclose, or something surrounded, what
a light it throws upon the keeping power of
The Christian believer has fled to Christ for
refuge. He has laid hold by faith upon the hope
set before him. That instant he is "in Christ "
JESUS CHRIST OUR JOY 83
yea more, Christ is in him " the hope of glory."
There follows, most assuredly, that the believer
has perfect security, that all " must be well," that
whatever comes of blessing or of discipline, of
what we call " weal or woe," judging by our poor
earthly standards, will be for his welfare, that "all
things " will be found to work together for his good.
The Christian s wonderful privileges in Christ
as our Golan, our City of Refuge, have been
beautifully expressed in lines breathing the spirit
of a most trustful faith :
" In the centre of the circle of the love of God I stand,
There can be no second causes, all must come from His
"All is well ; for is it not my Father Who my life hath
planned ? "
" Though I cannot tell the reasons, I can trust, and so am
God is Love and God is faithful, so in perfect peace I
If again, Golan means as some scholars think,
exile, it suggests lessons which we need ever to
remember. For did not Christ pass from Heaven
to this world in which we live ? He voluntarily
made Himself an exile from His Father s home of
light. He came to earth a pilgrim and a
wanderer. " The foxes had holes, and the birds
of the air had nests, but the Son of Man had not
where to lay His head."
The Lord Jesus constantly declared " I am
from above ... I am not of this world. I
84 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
came out from the Father, and am come into the
world : again I leave the world and go unto the
Father." And of mankind, in its purely human
aspect, unregenerate, unrenewed in heart and
mind, unspiritual and earth-bound, He said : " Ye
are from beneath ... ye are of this world."
His great mission, for the sake of which He left
His Father s house, was to seek and to save that
which was lost. For to be earthly in aim and
purpose, to be selfish in outlook upon life, to be
unbelieving, thus living for things of sense and
time, is to be lost and to have missed the supreme
object of existence.
What possible bridge can there be between a
humanity thus earth-trammelled and this heavenly
life of God in Christ? "An abyss," as Godet
points out, " separates heaven, life in God, the
home of Jesus, and earth, the life of this world."
Only Christ Himself can and does bridge the
great gulf which sin has made between man and
God. He is the bridge that spans the vast chasm
of eternity. He is the way, the living way from
Man to God, from Sin to Forgiveness, from Earth
Then the Exile-life becomes ours. We no
longer walk by sight, but by faith. We are,
as St. Peter says (using words which the Church
in modern days would do well to remember), but
" strangers, and pilgrims." This is an aspect of
the Christian life which needs to be kept con-
JESUS CHRIST OUR JOY 85
stantly in view. It requires to be iterated and
reiterated in a materialistic age, when there is so
much in modern life which would close in our
horizon, and restrict our view to the merely
sensuous. We are exiles, strangers, here but
for a time, our home is above, this is not our
Fatherland. Our King to whom we give our heart s
allegiance is Christ, our citizenship is in heaven.
We are pilgrims on the earth, but sojourners for
a little while, travellers passing through to their
own country. " For here we have no continuing
city, but we seek one to come." The time of
our stay is short. Our faces are Zionward. Our
motto is Onward, Excelsior.
The most beautiful, and at the same time the
most expressive meaning for Golan is Joy.
It makes no draft upon the imagination to enter
into the exultant joy of the refugee, as fleeing from
the dread avenger, he entered within the precincts
of the City of Refuge. He would indeed rejoice,
his whole being would exult in the thought of
perfect safety. The awful dread of death which
like a dark cloud had rested upon him, along the
whole pathway which he had come, as like a
frightened deer he had fled before his angry
pursuers, gave way as the sun of hope came again
into his sky, and as he passed within the gates
the full flood-tide of joy burst upon him. His
fears are now dead, joy reigns within and without,
" The soul s calm sunshine and the heartfelt joy."
86 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
And Christ is the believer s Joy.
The Christian is called to " rejoice in the
Lord." " In Christ," he is safe, and blessed
with a great and glorious provision for his every
need, well, therefore, may he rejoice and sing.
The life of joy is the Christian s privilege, "joy
and peace in believing." It differs from what we
call happiness. The word " happy," comes from
the Icelandic, " happ " which means good fortune,
or luck. It is thus associated with outward
conditions, and is connected with the enjoyment
of something that brings pleasure into life. But
the root idea of joy is different. It is from within,
and is literally a leaping forth, exulting, bursting
upward from the well-spring of life. It is not the
blessing of environment, but of character,
independent of all else, save the presence of
Christ. It is His gift, " My joy," the fruit of
It is an abiding Joy. In fact the wish and will
of Christ is that every Christian should enter into
the fulness of His joy, not for a brief and passing
moment merely, but in a life of constant enjoy
ment. " These things have I spoken unto you,
that my joy might remain in you." What an
inspiration this is in human life, in a world which
the poets have called by every name that could
suggest the evanescent, and the hard, and the
trying, and the cruel. This world is to their
minds, "all a fleeting show," a "bubble," a
JESUS CHRIST OUR JOY 87
"comedy," a whirling "wheel," a "naughty
world," a "canting world," a "bleak" and
"wintry" and "tough," and "cold" world, in
which " life s but a walking shadow." But it is
the world into which we are called to live, to
play our part, and to do our duty. And if as
Sterne said, that even a smile would lengthen
the fragment of our lives, what bliss to have
within us a fountain of joy, the abiding presence
It is a growing, expanding, ever-increasing Joy.
" The joy that is mine," said the Lord Jesus, is
to be yours. And that not in small measures
but in its fulness. His purpose is lovingly
expressed, " in order that your joy may be
fulfilled," or really perfected, springing up to the
fulness of its content, flooding the whole being
with an ever increasing and enduring gladness.
It is eternal in its origin, and eternal in its sway.
" Earth s joys grow dim, its glories pass away,"
but Christ s joy in the believer s heart is immortal
and is touched with the life of God. The stream
never goes dry, when it issues from an ever-
Jesus Christ then is our Golan, our City of
Refuge, our true Joy. In His love we rest.
Faith unites us to Him. Someone has said,
Love and Joy " are twins of the same birth."
And if peace is love reposing, and faith is love
reclining, joy is love exulting.
88 THE CITIES OF REFUGE
Joy is the music of the Christian life, the light
of Christian gladness, caught by every trusting
soul that looks unto Christ, and finds the
experience fulfilled again, in the expressive words
of a new translation, "they looked unto Him, and
were radiant," irradiated with gladness, glowing
with heavenly happiness, luminous with holy
BY THE SAME AUTHOR. NEW AND ENLARGED EDITION.
Cbc Fruit of (be Spirit
By the YEN. W. J. ARMITAGE, M.A., PH.D.
RECTOR OF ST. PAUL S, AND ARCHDEACON OF HALIFAX, X S.
With Introductory Note by the Rev. W. II. GRIFFITH THOMAS, D.D.,
Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
From the Press of MARSHALL BROS., Keszvick House, Paternoster Row,
London, AND OF ALL BOOKSELLERS.
His Grace, the late ARCHBISHOP OK
TORONTO, Primate of all Canada, writes :
Your valuable book. ... I feel sure
that I will find it very useful."
The BISHOP OF NOVA SCOTIA :
I have read it with great pleasure. The
subject is a most interesting one, ably and
comprehensively treated, 1
The Right Rev. FREDERICK COURT ^Ev,
D.D., New York :
" Good, sound, helpful, spiritual ; likely
to be very useful "
The Rev. R. A. FALCONE?, D D., Litt. D.,
President of Toro t > University :
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by a la--ge number of people, and cannot
fail to help them.*
Rev. Canon VROOM, D.D., Professor of
Divinity in King s College, Windsor, \.S. :
" I have no doubt many of the Clergy
will find it helpful in the preparation of
addresses on the subject."
The Hon. H. S. BLAKK, K.C., Toronto :
" I like the book. I do not think that the
Church sufficiently proclaims the person,
power, and work of the Third Person ot the
Trinity. I therefore believe that it will be
very useful at this time and will be helpful
The Rev. Dr. RKXFORD, Principal of the
Montreal Diocesan College :
" I am sure that it will prove very helpful
in Deepening the spiritual life "
The Rev. Canon O MEARA, LI..D ,
Principal of Wycliffe College, Toronto :
The gracious working of the Spirit as
touching the formation of Christian charac
ter is dealt with in a most interesting and
The Rev. DYsO\ HAGUE, M.A., London,
" It is admirable in every way."
The Rev. Canon Cony, "D.D., Rector of
St. Paul s Church, and Prof essor of Dogma
tic Theology in Wycliffe College, Toronto :
" The style if concise, lucid and attractive.
The pages abound in apt quotation and
helpful illustration. You have added one
to the number of devotional books which
really help and interest. . The subject is
The late Professor A. V. G. ALLEN, D.D.
of the Cambridge Theological School :
" Its merit is out of all proportion toils
size. I have found it most interesting
and helpful. It is a practical treatise on
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ture of the subject . . . deeply spiritual
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beautiful and blessed cluster of perennial
f.-uit growing abundantly in the Lord s
Garden. Gem? of choice quotations Hash
on manv pages.and well-selected illustrative
incidents feather many an arrow."
The Wesleyan :
" It furnishes a strong incentive to a life
of practical godliness. A prayerful phrasal
of this volume cannot fail to interest and
benefit the reader. 1
The Life of Faith:
" T le teaching is practical, spiritual and
illuminating in a high degree."
The Maritime Baptist says :
" We welcome the book as a real con
tribution to devo .ional Christian literature.
It may be read with equal appreciation and
profit by Churchmen and Xon-Churclimen.
The Canadian Churchman:
We heai tily commend this little book to
the diligent study of all Christians of ever,
The Rev. Principal MILLKR, D.C.L., in
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" It makes an excellent manual for devo
tional reading. The chief Christian graces
are treated in clear, well-written style and
are expressed with the fervour of convic
The Rev. Professor JAS. DKXXEY, D.D.,
of Glasgow, says :
"I am sure it will prove useful to any
who are in quest of help in the devotional
study of the Bible, or in the culture of the
BY THE SAME A UTHOR .
Che Cburcb year
S/uitits for the Sundays, Sacred Seasons and Saints Days of the
Ch istian Year.
Yen. W. J. ARMITAGE, M.A., Pb.D.
With Introductory Note by the
RIGHT REV. \VM. BOYD CARPENTER, D.D.,
Lord Bishop of Ripon.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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rler.ominations." Presbyterian Witness.
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